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Starting School: Surviving & Thriving Takes Planning

Starting School Means Adjustments


Starting school--whether it is pre-school, daycare, or public/private education--means an adjustment for everyone in the family. Even after bed times are established, morning routines are set, and homework patterns are created (remember, even pre-schoolers sometimes have homework), it is important to keep a focus on healthy and happy kids to ensure a successful year.

Here are six strategies for starting school on the right foot and making it a memorable and positive experience:

  1. Limit children to no more than two structured activities when starting school for the year. Kids who are involved in lessons, music, church, scouting, dance, and sports may seem like they are getting a diversified and well-rounded educational experience, but the truth is that they are over-extended and could face burn-out and stress.

  2. Pre-school and school-age children should receive 10-11 hours of sleep each night. Consider it brain time for both them and for parents as they start school. Establish those bedtime requirements, and then stick to it. It really is in everyone's best interest and well-rested kids make for happier families.

  3. Make a family commitment to eat dinner together (without the TV) at least four times each week. If four times simply won't work in your schedule during the start of the school year, then consider three. The key is to make it a priority to hear about your child's day and take time to enjoy each other in a stress-free setting.

  4. Prepare the evening before for morning routines surrounding starting school each year. Select clothing, including shoes and socks, and have them laid out. Hair accessories, backpacks zipped and ready, lunches made or at least decisions about what will be in the lunch, and determining weather-appropriate attire helps to minimize morning madness.

  5. Use a large calendar to keep track of schedules and events to help with adjustments with starting school and throughout the year. Some families utilize a different color for each family member. Others require children to write in their own activities. Even young children can create dots or stars on the days they attend pre-school, for example, and feel like they are making a positive contribution to the master calendar.

  6. Designate a homework corner and place for backpacks. Then, stick with it. Having a set place for backpacks minimizes lost homework or missing items in the harried morning routine. Make the designated homework spot more attractive by stocking it with colorful pencils, paper, and coordinated desk sets.
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